Guest contribution by Derek Goodman
As a woman, I’ve faced plenty of discrimination at the workplace. From being ignored at the table to having my opinions dismissed.
Major industries in the world are male-dominated. Including the one I am in. Finance and insurance services did not see female presence at all until the late 80’s and 90’s.
Fortunately, the narrative is changing. The corporate world is starting to be more inclusive and diverse. Major corporations are including DEI initiatives in their strategic planning and offering more opportunities for women in leadership.
Unfortunately, change is not happening as fast as we like.
While some of the former obstacles faced by women entering the workforce have finally been rolled away, many more remain. So young women preparing to enter the workforce have a lot to be thankful for, but also have a lot of work still ahead of them.
The glass ceiling has been shattered in some areas, sure, but not in others. Some doors have been opened, but others remain closed. And while sexism has changed in various ways, and grown less overt, it hasn’t really gone away. Often it has simply cropped up again in a new guise.
This guide can help young women overcome sexism in the workplace and become a success in their industries:
Primary workplace challenges young professional women must deal with
Today, the culture and economy still have quite a way to go, to achieve true gender equality and equity. Women’s wages remain lower than that of their male counterparts, and the average superannuation balances for older women are even less, compared with those of men.
Unfortunately, women in the workplace are still harassed and discriminated against. I’m fortunate to be in a role that allows me to customize my own work-life balance, but not everyone is that fortunate. This discrimination can be especially severe, with as many as one in five working mothers even being dismissed or their contracts not being renewed.
Even with my flexibility, I felt the unspoken pressure of keeping up with performance metrics the first 3 months of having my son.
Read this informative and actionable guide on how women fair in the Tech world.
Additional issues women face in daily life
It’s not just harassment and discrimination in the workplace that can slow women down and bar them from achieving their goals. It’s the myriad of added burdens they must carry in daily life. One major injustice women deal with is sexual assault / sexual violence, which can cause severe trauma and make it more difficult for women to compete in the workplace.
Physical and sexual violence are often a threat in the home, too, which means that women often have no safe zone they can retreat to. On top of that, women are automatically expected to do unpaid labor, whether this is actual caregiving, or the emotional labor demanded of them at work and at home.
How can women get ahead, despite this?
Knowledge is empowering, so the first step is to know that yes, you may face discrimination in and out of the work place. The second step is to master the tools you can use to undermine it. One important way to combat gender discrimination in the workplace is to get companies to foster a culture of inclusivity and equality. Be bold and have open conversations with your leadership about poor practices and your ideas on how to overcome them.
Read articles from my Fempreneur series to find out how other women shine in their industries through their own experiences, lessons and knowledge.
On an individual level, career women should make a point of sticking together and supporting one another, not clamoring for a place at the boys-only table. Knowing that some men are going to assume they know better than you (hello mansplaining!), on your part, you can do the work and show up with the evidence to shut down the mansplaining before it even begins (goodbye mansplaining!).
Also, you can arm yourself with education; that way, you’ll have the knowledge to succeed in your chosen field on your own terms. Even if you’re working today, enrolling in an online program to earn your MBA will help you grow the skills you have while earning more. Going to school will require a lot of hard work, but it’s an investment in your career and your future.
Like how my medical degree often gives me the upper hand in the health insurance industry as I understand my client’s diagnosis and can perform health assessments quickly more than many of my counterparts do!
How women can earn leadership positions in their companies
Having the mentorship of an experienced career woman who can help you network and make connections is helpful for getting ahead. It’s also important to make sure all your qualifications are on show.
Don’t let the guilt of a sexist culture put you into thinking you can’t showcase your talents and your expertise, or that you can’t have a plan and lead with it. Don’t be afraid to speak up and be confident. They may call you bossy; if so, just ignore it – or demand that they explain themselves.
Additionally, make sure your resume truly reflects your accomplishments. You may benefit from working with a freelance resume writer who can help you polish it up and ensure that you stand out in your industry.
Resources to help young working women
While the challenges have not vanished, many more tools for dealing with them are at hand than there were for previous generations of working women. Globally, there are many organizations working hard to win women the equality they deserve in all walks of life, especially women of color and less advantaged women, or women in developing nations. Plus, as Fairygodboss shows, a plethora of industry-specific organizations exist to support women in the workplace to provide them with resources and help them connect with one another.
Here are some of my top picks for books that have helped me:
There are also a lot of Facebook groups and communities across the internet that help many women – especially entrepreneurs – talk things out, help each other and grow.
Getting past sexism and other obstacles can be tough, but it’s not a journey you have to take on your own. And keep in mind that the victories you earn are helping to clear the path for other women who will someday look to you for leadership.
As a healthcare advisor, I help you identify your best-fit health insurance plan and then get set up in a really simple and seamless experience. Contact me today for more information, or to set up a consultation!